Still waiting on news of any Hungarian government grant for the school in Kenya. Louisa, in her 20s, already having a very positive impact on the residents of the Daniel Centre and forming a very good team with Danny – good interaction with Alix and Daniel in particular.
Development at the Depot goes on, 3 of the 5 buildings there are already spoken for, one is possibly spoken for by a neighbouring business and the 5th is the slow remodelling. The local church has decided against taking the premises behind the Daniel Centre, about 2.5 km. from the depot site.
Cipri waits the results of a very exhaustive testing. The lads find it hard to believe they are not being ripped off when the Centre asks them to contribute more from their earnings to the Centre because of escalating energy costs.
Romeo, very stable at work, would like to move out but doesn’t earn enough yet. Daniel is in the same situation, has given up school for the time being and hopes to resume next year. Soreen is coming back to the Centre once again. Alix, the recent arrival, has a drug problem and will have to leave because of this. The other Alix who had moved out to rent and Istvan are both doing well.
Adi’s second-hand clothing shop is having to move to make way for various clubs but the Council has increased their support for Talita Kum to almost compensate for the loss. Adi still hopes to have some of the spare ground behind TK2 for a play area for the children and perhaps a football pitch.
Pakistani sentenced to death for “blasphemy”
Zafar Bhatti, a Pakistani Christian who was convicted of “blasphemy” in May 2017, was sentenced to death by Rawalpindi District Court on 3 January.
Bhatti, who has been fighting to clear his name since his arrest in 2012, appeared in court as part of an ongoing appeal against the life sentence he received when first convicted for allegedly sending texts insulting Muhammad on a phone that was not registered in his name.
The court, however, upheld the 2017 conviction, and further ruled that the proper sentence for “blasphemy” against Muhammad, the Islamic prophet, was death rather than life imprisonment.
The ruling is based on a 1991 constitutional court decision that the death penalty is the only appropriate punishment for “blasphemy” against Muhammad.
Laws outlawing insulting religion have existed in the region since 1860, were incorporated into Pakistan’s Penal Code in 1947 and were strengthened under the military government (1978-88, stating that any person who “defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet” is to be “punished with death or imprisonment for life”.
This, however, was followed by the 1991 court ruling that the only suitable punishment for “blasphemy” against Muhammad was death, a more lenient sentence of life imprisonment being “repugnant to the injunctions of Islam”.
Higher courts are, nevertheless, reluctant to uphold a death sentence, and no executions have ever been carried out.
The Joshua Project 11 January 2022
What is the future for China’s Uyghurs, a people with a rich and centuries-old Turkic culture severely oppressed by China’s government? Millions of Uyghurs live in China’s north-western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, now a police state that imprisons well over 1,000,000 Uyghurs in brutal “re-education” camps. Although almost all Uyghurs are Sunni Muslim, they mix their Islam with folk religion.
Their community-oriented culture and religion face serious threats. Such a situation makes them less open to outside ideas. Few Uyghurs are open to Christ and Han Chinese Christians have little interest in reaching them.
The Uyghurs may listen to believers who demonstrate the compassion and love of the only Saviour. Their language contains the complete Bible, the JESUS Film and many audio and visual materials based on the Bible.
Pray that members of this people group will soon have as rich an understanding of the need for God’s presence as Moses did.
A small but growing number of Uyghur believers live in nearby Central Asia. Pray that they would be strengthened in their faith and filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Ask God to disciple Uyghur believers to reach Uyghur communities throughout China. Pray God would stir Chinese Christians to intercede for and reach out to China’s suffering Uyghurs. Ask that suffering Uyghurs would experience God’s comfort from within re-education camps and broken homes.
Dawn speaks at St Nicholas church, Haxey in the morning service on Sunday. Pray for clarity and discernment.
NetACT are currently data-gathering on how to encourage partner colleges to use the Internet Portal more. Pray that accurate results would establish a clear course of action.
The best way may be for Fraser to make more site visits. If so, pray the logistics would work out (funding, visas etc).
Dawn’s flight back to South Africa leaves on January 19th. It’s been a valuable time of meeting family and friends to share some of the amazing things God does with those who are willing.
However, there might be a hitch. Dawn tested positive for Covid on January 1st; her fit to fly PCR test is January 17th. This second PCR could also be positive coming so soon after the infection. Please pray that whatever the result, she will be in the place God wants her to be.
Pray for strength in partings; having to leave family in the UK or Fraser having to cope longer on his own. Pray for James and Ruth beginning a new term in Oxford and Glasgow. Thank God for safety in travelling in past weeks and for what’s left to do.
Voice of the Martyrs, 6 January 2022
After worshiping peacefully together in a tin hut for more than 10 years, a church of more than 20 families from the Chakma people group recently began constructing a church building in their village in Bangladesh.
Shortly after building began, a mostly-Buddhist organization known as the Underground Army destroyed the church building’s windows and threatened to torture or kill the men of the church, who fled into the jungle for several weeks.
Frightened, the women and children of the church lived together in one home for safety. Eventually, the Underground Army found the women and beat them with canes, leaving them bruised. The militant Buddhists then looted the believers’ empty homes, stealing their crops and livestock.
For their safety, the Christian children have not attended school since the initial attack. Pray for the families to remain strong in their faith despite the pain they’ve endured and the uncertainty they face.
Pray that the Buddhists will witness the gospel in the lives of those they are persecuting and repent. Pray for the completion of the church building’s construction.
Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world. Churches are careful when offering relief to the poor and needy because they do not want to encourage false conversions among people claiming faith in Christ solely for economic benefit.
Millions of Bangladeshis are learning about Christ and the Bible through media outreaches.
Balazs is back from a very successful trip to Kenya. Balazs is now applying to the Hungarian government for a significant grant towards the development of the school there. Louisa, one of the volunteers there, is now full-time at the Daniel Centre as a counsellor.
Development at the Depot goes on, but very slowly. There is the possibility of a local church moving into the spare ground behind the Daniel Centre which could be a great encouragement to some of the residents.
Cipri’s problems have now been possibly diagnosed as physical rather than psychological but there have been no other significant changes among the young men at the Centre but plenty activity with the arrival of this year’s shoeboxes to deal with.
Adi continues to experience less sympathy and help from the new local council in Jimboliya and they have currently not renewed his contract for the building that houses his second-hand clothing shop.
There is no movement on the EU funding for TK3 and TK4.
Russian armed officers disrupt conference (excerpts)
Barnabas Fund, 14 December 2021
Several dozen officers from the Centre for Combating Extremism disrupted a Christian conference near Moscow, on 2 December, wearing bulletproof vests, armed with machine guns and confining attendees in the conference building for around ten hours.
Before being released the majority of attendees were charged with an “administrative offence” – thus violating “the rules and norms” of the Russian Federation – because the Christian ministry that had organised the event had been declared an “undesirable” foreign organisation.
Having entered the building, security officers aimed their guns at the attendees – including women and children – forcing them to lie face down on the floor. Some pastors in attendance were kicked as they lay on the floor, despite offering no resistance, and some sustained injuries.
Anybody who asked the reason for the intrusion was met with the answer “shut up” or “shut your mouth”.
“We, as citizens of Russia, are interested in the legality of our actions. We pray for and bless Russia – we want to serve for the good of our country. But such actions of ‘law enforcement officers’ armed to the teeth undermine the credibility of the authorities in the most monstrous way.
“After all, now, judging by everything that happened, armed people will be able to break into any Christian congregation under the guise of it being an ‘undesirable organisation’ and mock believers, including women and children.”
Release International, 10 November 2021 (excerpts)
During a four-day online speaking tour, Jamal, a Muslim- background Christian, described how his Hand of Help organisation is giving new hope to Christian refugees in northern Iraq who fled the conflict with Isis and have been given a safe haven in the region of Kurdistan. And through remarkable favour with the government, Jamal’s work has been extended to help displaced Muslims and Yazidis.
In 2003, before the upheavals of the Gulf War and Isis, there were around 1.8 million Christians in Iraq. Today there are considered to be fewer than 400,000 Christians living in Iraq.
As well as distributing relief aid, Hand of Help train seamstresses, electricians and hairdressers and teach computer skills.
Through all of this comes the message of Christ’s love. Jamal’s team uses the Gospel of Luke to teach his students keyboard skills.
The Kurdistan government has seen the remarkable work Hand of Hope is doing and is right behind it. The country’s parliament has presented the ministry with its Shield of Honour.
The government has given this openly Christian ministry access to teach at a prison and to work in camps for displaced Muslims and Yazidis.
Says Jamal: ‘This is a Muslim country and we are a Christian organisation. We clearly say we are Christian and yet they allow us to go to the camps. It’s amazing!
Give thanks that Hylma could have a Christmas/end of year celebration in both Maximum and Medium A today. Pray for the effect on the men of the cake, squash, toothpaste and flannels that people outside have been willing to contribute, and that what they’ve learned over the year will draw them closer to Jesus. Thank God for Hylma, in her mid-70s, her love and enthusiasm for ministering to incarcerated men.
The presentation for Jurgens (NetACT founder) went well. Pray for Fraser as he takes time off from day-to-day work over December to get on with one or two projects.
Our church in South Africa has an Elders’ Meeting on Thursday about issues raised over the past month. Pray that those hurt by various issues can put that to one side.
Pray also that neither Dawn, nor Ruth nor anyone they meet will catch any variety of Covid in Scotland and England during the coming week.
Pray that Dawn clearly communicates the amazing things God does and can do with ordinary, willing lives – at the Inverness East church lunch time prayer meeting on Wednesday, Highland International Church on Sunday morning and Zoom meetings for Drumnadrochit at 19:30 on Thursday and Dingwall Castle Street on Sunday night.
On Monday she and Ruth return to Glasgow before heading back to Lincolnshire on Wednesday. Then we’ll have a break from sending out weekly prayer notes until January.
International Christian Concern, 12 December 2021
As the United States and Iran come closer to reaching agreement on the renewal of a nuclear deal for Iran, Christians continue to face severe persecution at the hands of the Iranian regime.
Since President Biden took office, U.S. officials have been negotiating with their Iranian counterparts in an effort to revive an agreement that aims to curb the Iranian nuclear program. Though the plan passed under President Obama in 2014 amidst heavy criticism for being too soft on the regime, President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement in 2018.
The Biden administration is still committed to reaching an agreement with Iran, but as these negotiations continue, the regime continues to arrest Christians for worshipping. In addition to being named a Country of Particular Concern for religious freedom violations by the State Department, ICC highlighted persecution in Iran in its recent 2021 Persecutor of the Year Report. ICC also listed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi among the worst persecutors of Christians.
As talks continue between U.S. and Iranian diplomats, the United States must emphasize human rights for all Iranians in these meetings to promote greater religious freedom in the country.